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There's that adage that 90% of jobs aren't advertised, and that you find your next job through the people you know.

As such, I was thinking of making it commitment to regularly attend various IT networking groups in my city.

How do I use to this networking opportunity to find a new job though?

Do I just wait for someone to mention a job?

Mention that I'm looking for a new job?

  • You mention, as part of the conversation. Don't make that the only topic of conversation, though :) – Vietnhi Phuvan Apr 29 '14 at 12:34
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    You know I have heard that my whole life yet somehow I have never worked anywhere that 90% of the employees were hired through networking, not even 50%. Not that we don't hire through networking, we do if we have somoen recommended to us that we like, but that it is never anywhere close to that figure in any industry I have ever worked in. So don't limit yourself to netweroking, people still get lots fo jobs through recruiters and through adds on job sites. – HLGEM Apr 29 '14 at 13:13
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    Votes to close and no comments on how to improve the question. There seems to be a lot of that. – thursdaysgeek Apr 29 '14 at 15:31
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As someone who 'attends IT networking groups' routinely, I can suggest the following:

Some of the people I've met in such groups are people I wouldn't hire and wouldn't want to work with. If you're someone that has a hard time keeping jobs, you might be one of these. In that case, you have to fix other things first.

Presuming the people you're meeting would want to work with you, you need to sort out three things:

  1. What are the companies in your town doing? In the Bay Area, this is a tall order, but in general you're looking for the game people, the 'big data' people, the database engine developers, etc., etc. On this axis your are less interested in the specific language or operating system, and deeply interested in these company's markets and products.

  2. Who uses the technologies you're interested in or skilled at? Now the point is to find the Java, C++, VB.NET, ASP, PHP, and so on. You'll be visiting the language or database specific groups with this in mind.

  3. Whose doing what to whom? In short, some companies are under severe stress, others are growing like crazy, and others are suing the pants off competitors that are also vendors or customers. In short, are the prospective employers likely to get hit with some kind of surprise you aren't interested in living through?

It's probably better not to promote your availability in such meetings. The best thing to trade is scuttlebutt, so that you know your way around the halls of prospective employers. It is very important that people know who you are. Discussions of some technical depth are a good way for people to feel comfortable about joining their team.

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How do I use to this networking opportunity to find a new job though?

There are more than a few ways:

  1. Some groups may have a "Call for talent" where some people looking for someone with specific skills can request if anyone present has the skills or knows of someone looking with those skills to come see them.

  2. Build friendships. In this case you may establish connections where someone may know of a company looking to hire someone with your skills. This does have the challenge of if you walk up and go, "Hi, I'm J.B. and I'm looking for work..." that may not go over well. It may be better to talk shop for a while and then ask if the person would pass along opportunities.

  3. Some groups may allow for someone to give a general call. In this case, you'd have an elevator pitch of what work you want so those that may be looking or about to be looking would come find you.

Do I just wait for someone to mention a job?

That is an option but I'd likely advise using multiple strategies at once here.

Mention that I'm looking for a new job?

This is an option where I'd be aware of at what point are you making this request. Do you have enough of a relationship that this person isn't going to refer you to places that wouldn't work.

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Networking is about cultivating relationships with people who are in a position to help you and vice versa. I've gotten my last three positions via networking even though I'm pretty uncomfortable "selling" and schmoozing. Here's my advice based on that experience and what I have personally observed others doing:

  1. Stay in touch with key coworkers. Talk via email, have lunch occasionally if you're in the same city, keep your eyes out for things the other would be interested in and pass those on... in other words, be somebody who holds up half of an interesting conversation. Note that while you want to share professional information, if the other person offers other info (hobbies, family, upcoming vacation, etc), you should pay attention to that -- later you can ask "how was Italy?" or "did your son make the team?" or whatever. You are not just using this person; you're cultivating a friendship. So be a friend.

  2. Attend social or networking events, but don't rely on them overmuch. Ideally, you will meet somebody you already know (one of the people from #1) and have that person introduce you to someone new. Then you talk shop with that person. As this answer says, you want to stay up to date with what's going on in the local scene and with the relevant technologies. Whether you end up chatting about Company X's big-data push or Technology Y's exciting new developments, you're learning and sharing. Until you are seen as someone with relevant skills, nobody cares if you're job-hunting.

  3. (I haven't done this but have seen others do it:) Participate in hackathons or the equivalent. This gives you a chance to work for a day or a weekend with peers from other companies, directly using the skills you want to promote. You can then stay in touch with some of those teammates, or others you meet there, as in #1.

  4. Use LinkedIn. Endorsements don't mean much by themselves (they're just +1s), but if you endorse people responsibly you may get on their radar. This is particularly helpful for people you didn't do a good job of staying in touch with. Offer recommendations, responsibly. Congratulate people in your network on new jobs. Comment on their posts. Be present but don't be in their faces. When a connection hears about an opportunity you want him to think hey, so-and-so might be interested in that".

  5. Always say thank you when someone does something for you (even if it wasn't helpful, they made an effort), and return favors.

  6. Recognize that this is a long process. You don't just fire up your network a week or two before sending out resumes; its maintenance is an ongoing task.

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